3-letter tags galore (Re: Question on ISO-639:1988)

Peter Constable petercon at microsoft.com
Fri Jun 11 20:56:55 CEST 2004

> From: Harald Tveit Alvestrand [mailto:harald at alvestrand.no]
> Sent: Friday, June 11, 2004 12:27 AM

> Sigh. If I understand this right, you have a 3-letter namespace, and
have 3
> different standards allocating names out of that namespace. Who
> the namespace?

The ISO 639/RA Joint Advisory Committee together with the registration

You're seeing a family of standards that are in transition, and it's
entirely possible that there will be further change. It is indeed one
namespace. Parts 3 and 5 were introduced as new, separate parts as there
would have been too many issues to immediately replace part 2 with one
new and very different standard. After parts 3 and 5 are published,
parts 2 and 1 will in effect be views into the overall repertoire. (Of
course, part 1 uses alpha-2, but the categories denoted are from the
same category space.) Havard Hjulstad has used the term "profiles" to
describe this. So, we will have one space, with parts 1 and 2
representing subsets that serve particular target audiences.

When the JAC met earlier this year, some ideas regarding future
directions were discussed, and one idea was that eventually different
parts could be merged into a single document. In that case, we would
eventually have one space described by one standard.

> IMHO, if my understanding is correct, RFC 3066 should refer to the
> defining the 3-letter namespace, and ignore the difference between
> 639-3 and 639-5. A code is a code is a code is a code.
> What is the name of that piece of the standard, when will it be
> and who administers the allocation of codes?

For now, it will have to refer to multiple parts. That is an
inconvenience, but not a serious one, I think.

Peter Constable
Globalization Infrastructure and Font Technologies
Microsoft Windows Division

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